Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Boy Who Loved Rain by Gerard Kelly - REVEIWED



About the Book:
They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. They’re wrong.

Colom had the perfect childhood, the much-loved only child of a church pastor. Yet he wakes screaming from dreams in which his sister is drowning and he can’t save her.

Fiona turns to her husband, desperate to help their son. But David will not acknowledge that help is needed—and certainly not help from beyond the church.

Then they find the suicide pledge.

Fiona, in panic, takes Colom and flees… but when will she acknowledge that the unnamed demons Colom faces might be of her and David’s own creation?

This beautifully written and searching novel by poet Gerard Kelly explores the toxicity of secrets, the nature of healing, and the ever-present power of rain.

My Thoughts:
Yes,” she said, knowing that her world, in that one word, would be unraveled.  (p. 189)

The circumstances that lead Fiona to say “yes” to releasing the hold of a lifetime of secrets on her heart and mind, does, indeed unravel quite a bit.  This story is about a family held in bondage to secrets that almost destroy them.  In each instance, it seems, the truth was deferred in an effort to protect the ones they love.  Yet, each time, the harm done by hidden truth is far greater and farther reaching than if the truth had been confronted originally.

This book was filled with surprises and hair pin emotional turns.  This is not a book for the faint of heart, because it deals with very delicate emotional situations that, unfortunately, are probably not that unfamiliar.  Colom bears the brunt of this emotional pain, and his actions escalate enough that his parents, particularly his mother, becomes desperate to find the root cause and deal with it no matter the cost.  It is a brutal battle emotionally.

There is not a strong, constant thread of faith throughout the story, but, like everything else, faith becomes something to be wrestled with and, sometimes, against.  Tragedy, injustice and cruelty cause every character of this story to stop and consider everything from a variety of very painful standpoints.  In the end, the battle is worth the pain and effort involved to fight.

This was a rather dark read, but it is told with honesty and sensitivity.  There is much to be learned if you allow yourself a time of looking inward to your own well-kept secrets.  What will the ultimate cost be to you and those you love?  Isn’t truth the only real way to live life?  I think Colum would tell you it is a much lighter load to bear than a life lived in the shadows of secrets. 

This is a good, but difficult book to read.  I will recommend it to those who are not afraid of some honest introspection.

About the Author:
Gerard Kelly is a well-known speaker and author of fourteen books. He and his wife live and work in France and co-founded the Blessed Network, a movement of young leaders committed to God’s mission on mainland Europe.



Monday, March 23, 2015

The Tomb by Septhanie Landsem - REVEIWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

 The Tomb 
by Stephanie Landsem


About the Book:
In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love. 

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

My Thoughts:
The Messiah, the Holy One of God, had come.  And it changed everything.”  (p.291)

Mary and Martha….you rarely say one name without the other.  Yet in Stephanie Landsen’s novel, The Tomb,  you learn to know Martha and her family very intimately.  I was intrigued that Landsen chose to start so early in their family’s history.  Lazarus was but a child when the book began, and I couldn’t begin to imagine how the author would take us to his death and resurrection.  The journey was important, and well completed within the pages of this novel, and the reader gets a glimpse into the ancient world that these biblical characters would have lived in and the customs of daily living that would have defined their day to day existence.

Because we begin so early in this family’s history, you are able to better understand both Mary and Martha’s personality traits that are revealed in Scripture.  You are better able to grasp the true salvation experiences that they went through when Lazarus died and was risen again to life.  There is quite a bit of liberty taken with the Biblical account of Martha’s life and her life choices that made me quite uncomfortable.  But this is fiction, and the story was told in historical context, and the details of the biblical account were adhered to…so my stress abated somewhat when I reminded myself that I wasn’t reading fact..but fiction.

This is a well-written story with well-developed characters that you come to care about in a meaningful way.   You will identify with their heartache and their joy….their salvation….it’s quite touching!!  For me, I had to ask myself what my relationship with Christ would have been had I walked the earth when he walked the earth and witnessed this miracle?  A very thought-provoking read!!

About the Author:
Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rasmus and the Vagabond by Astrid Lindgren - REVIEWED



About the Book:
After running away from an orphanage, nine-year-old Rasmus finds the world a cold and unfriendly place until he befriends an extraordinary tramp called Paradise Oscar. Together they meet more adventure than they ever imagined, solve a mystery, and catch the culprits. Rasmus dreams of finding a family and a home someday. But when he does, will he be able to part with his new friend and life on the road?

My Thoughts:
These were summer smells and all his life they would bring back to him this summer day on the road.”  (p. 49)

Astrid Lindgren wrote the story of Rasmus and the Vagabond decades ago, but she has captured the timelessness of youthful adventure!  Young hearts will be captured by Rasmus and his adventures with Oscar for years to come!  I’m decades past the intended target age for this book, and I was spellbound from beginning to end.

I think what I appreciate most about this book is its honesty.  Rasmus has experienced a lot of hardships in his very brief time on earth, but the hopefulness of a young, innocent heart enables him to be brave enough to escape his fear and enter the open road with a virtual stranger.  Oscar and Rasmus become quick friends, and when they face danger, they do it together.  Not everyone is as fine and trustworthy as they appear, and although Oscar’s vagabond existence casts doubt his way. However, his constant honesty stands him in good stead and enables him to aide those who truly need help.


Rasmus comes to care a great deal about Oscar, and it turns out, Oscar has a few secrets of his own to reveal!  This is a tender, honest look at youthful innocence and adventure at its finest.  As many hardships as Rasmus had faced, his life was spared in the truest sense of the word.  I highly recommend this book for every young adult library!!

About the Author:
Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking, Emil, and dozens of other world-famous characters, has thrilled three generations of children with her storytelling. She is the only children’s author with a literary prize, a theme park, a museum, a satellite, and a minor planet named in her honor. (After this last honor, she suggested changing her name to “Asteroid Lindgren.”) A jury appointed by Swedish Radio’s Culture Department to elect the “Author of the Millennium” voted Astrid Lindgren second after William Shakespeare. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and heaps of other awards and honors.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED BARITONE DAVID BRITTON PROMOTES UPCOMING CD, THE STORM, AT NRB 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 18, 2015) - World class baritone and Shadowlands Music recording artist David Britton recently attended the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention held Feb. 23-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. During the event Britton met with media and industry leaders to discuss his upcoming CD, The Stormwhich is slated for a summer 2015 release.
  
The classically trained vocalist, who effortlessly merges the often disparate worlds of classical, pop and rock music, has been compared to Josh Groban, but with more of a rock edge. Britton was kept busy during the 4-day event with interviews and meetings with CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), MRG Media, World Christian Broadcasting and more.

The Storm brings together Britton's diverse influences to create a pop-classical flair with a twist of anthemic rock. The result is a poignant blend of powerful yet intimate moments.
"In a world that is full of so much turmoil and pain, it is my goal to use music to shed a glimmer of light; to bring comfort to those that grieve, peace to those at war, hope to those that fail, encouragement to those that feel alone, joy to those in despair," Britton says. "I am grateful for the opportunity to create music that does not fit within any specific genre, that allows me to leverage the unorthodox musical influences of my life, that people of all generations and tastes may find something that speaks to them. Above all else it is my desire that those who listen may see past me to the One who created all things."

About David Britton:
Growing up in a missionary family afforded David Britton the unique opportunity to experience a broad range of cultures, to gain language skills in English, Italian, French and German, and to sing in churches around the world. The experience fostered a love for classical music and spurred him to study classical voice and vocal performance at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. This led to David receiving his Master's Degree in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 
Britton has performed with Opera San Jose, Opera Santa Barbara, Festival Opera, Intermountain Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, and the North Bay Opera. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in New York as Townsend Harris in The Dawn of Japan by Toroku Takagi with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. 
His upcoming inspirational project, The Storm, is slated for release in the summer of 2015.For more information about David Britton or The Storm, visit davidbritton.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black - REVEIWED


About the Book:
A six thousand year war rages and now the demonic Fallen are coming for him—the one man shrouded in mystery. Only Validus stands in their way.Validus is the last and least of God’s angels, but he’s seen much across the millennia since his creation. Empires have risen and fallen as angelic and demonic forces battle in a raging war that will determine humanity's fate – and the fate of his defeated brothers.


Eventually called to be an earth-bound warrior, Validus rises to a position of power and respect, commanding legions of angels through impossible battles and overwhelming odds. But when orders arrive from the Creator's most elite Messenger, he finds himself suddenly demoted to a task of apparent insignificance considering the fierce war they are waging against the demonic Fallen – the covert protection of one unbelieving man. 


Validus soon finds himself on a mission that will push him beyond his abilities as he battles to protect Drew Carter, for the Fallen are coming for him. Legions of them. 

As Validus races against time to discover why Drew is so important to humanity's survival, can he stand between Drew and all who would destroy him? 

My Thoughts:
My mission is to protect him until he is won.”  (p. 259)

You will never think the same way about spiritual warfare again after reading Chuck Black’s latest novel, Rise of the Fallen.  This is much more than an action packed thriller!  The action never ends as you  watch the ages unfold observing angelic battles throughout creation  - all the while having that rich history woven into a present day story line.  I’ve never read anything quite like it!  Black takes it to an even deeper level as he has characters speak words straight from Scripture into the story.  You get to observe God’s divine plan for mankind unfold as though you were observing through the eyes of an angel.  Totally brilliant!

Black does even more that that!  He takes each chapter and provides a Reader’s Guide that gives deep insight through Scripture into the creation of this particular fictional storyline.  It’s as though you are getting a very personal look into the heart of the author as he carefully explains the background of the novel’s creation and what he hopes to covey to readers.  Black has offered us a rare gift into the heart of one of God’s obedient servants.  Black is pulling back the veil – as it were – to give us a glimpse into the sovereign heart of God toward his beloved creation – the reason Christ went to the cross.  It is a very humbling, exciting experience!


Rise of the Fallen begins the Wars of the Realm series, and it’s far more than an action-packed thriller!  It is ALL OF THAT!!  I cannot recommend this highly enough! Thank you Chuck Black for such a thrilling experience!

About the Author:



CHUCK BLACK, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical combat communications engineer, is the author of thirteen novels, including the popular Kingdom Series and The Knights of Arrethtrae series. Chuck and his wife, Andrea, have six children and live in North Dakota.





"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

EMERGING ROCK BAND ABOVE THE FALL PROMOTES DEBUT EP AT NRB 2015



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 16, 2015) - Dynamic Rock band and new Cul De Sac Records
recording artist Above The Fall recently attended the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention, which was held Feb. 23-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. During the event, Above the Fall's Jesse Fryson and Zach MacGorman met with media and industry leaders to discuss their upcoming debut Rock EP, Rise & Fall, while celebrating the release of their first radio single, "Hands in the Air," which went for adds on February 9, 2015.

Fryson and MacGorman made the rounds at the four-day event, being interviewed by such influential outlets as BYOBB, MRG Media, On Faith's Edge and World Christian Broadcasting, among others.

Known for their energetic and creative live shows, Above The Fall called on Grammy and Dove Award-nominated producer Billy Smiley to help capture that energy on their debut EP. The project is expected to impact retail in Spring 2015. 



Above the Fall's Zach MacGorman and Jesse Fryson recently met with the host of The Shaun Tabatt Show at NRB 2015 in Nashville. Pictured (L to R): MacGorman, Tabatt and Fryson. (Above the Fall photo) 

About Above The Fall:
Above The Fall was birthed from the collaboration of Jesse Fryson and Zach MacGorman. Based in Tom's River, New Jersey, the band plays music that is undeniably Rock and unashamedly Christian. For more information about Above The Fall and
Rise & Fall, visit abovethefall.com.

About NRB:
The annual National Religious Broadcasters Convention & Exposition (NRB) is the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assisting those in the field of Christian communications. The dynamic exposition consists of nearly 200 companies and is an active marketplace for those seeking tools and services to expand their ministries. NRB 2015 was held Feb. 23-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. For more information, visit nrb.org.